Reflections on Ireland’s Campaign for Biden
No other country in the world has a closer affinity with its diaspora in the US than Ireland, and no other country has such an obsession with claiming US Presidents as our own.
Irish American Presidents have always embodied the hard work and success of Irish emigrants all over the world, something we here in Ireland continue to take great pride in.
There has probably been no other in US history that takes a greater in pride in their Irish heritage than the 46th President of the United States, Joe Biden.
Our professional journey with Joe Biden began back in 2016, when our PR firm was asked to arrange the then Vice President’s visit to his ancestral homestead in Carlingford, Co. Louth. Our firm was appointed by Louth County Council to manage his visit to the county, and he always felt the need to ask about the Irish and what drove a country of our size to have a great impact on the world. He would repeatedly say the Irish made America better.
At that moment in time, we were also managing the ‘Ireland For Hillary’ campaign, targeting Irish Americans living in Ireland. During the various stages of his visit, Vice President Biden expressed great interest in how it was going.
During one of our many stop and chats, I asked would he consider running for the Presidency? With a small smile and a wink, he sheepishly walked away….
Thankfully, he did decide to run. Back in summer 2020, we took the easy decision to mount our own independent initiative, and establish the ‘Irish For Biden’ campaign.
Our tagline for the Ireland campaign was very simple – ‘’Call a Cousin, Phone a Friend, Ring a Relative’’.
For the campaign launch, we stepped back in time to one of the places the Vice President visited in 2016, Fitzpatrick’s Bar & Restaurant near Carlingford.
Right from the start, there was huge interest from people in County Louth, who were excited to get the message out to their relatives and friends. The campaign quickly spread across County Louth, then across Ireland and then escalated to America.
The impact of this support was staggering, as the campaign rapidly gathered momentum and altitude. The hits on our website continued to grow and grow.
One of the great strengths of our strategy was that it gave people an opportunity to contact friends and relatives they might not have heard from in a long time.
After a very nervous election night, where at one stage the situation looked very gloomy, and an uncertain few days thereafter, we were thrilled to be able to celebrate President Biden’s victory.
A moment in history, when the voice of the true America was heard, and Irish people helped push that blue wall even further.
To celebrate Joe’s victory, we quickly organised a socially distant event in Biden Country, near the homestead in Carlingford. The local parish priest arranged for the bells in the church to ring out at twelve noon.
The magnificent Carlingford Pipe Band, who had not had an opportunity to perform in months, led the celebrations with their specially composed ‘Ode to Local Joe’, which they premiered to the audience gathering socially distant along the streets.
Attended by what seemed like the entire Cooley Peninsula, the level of excitement and joy among the people in the area was truly palpable, as one of their own was elected to the highest office in the world. Many reflected on their own family’s emotional history of emigration to the United States.
When James Finnegan left Carlingford for New York in 1850 on the SS Marchioness of Bute, a voyage of eight solid winter weeks at sea, who would have believed that his descendant would be the cause of celebrations in his home town?
President Biden’s victory means a huge amount, not just to the people of Carlingford and Louth, but to the people of Ireland, who can once again look to America for the leadership and high values we used to expect from American Presidents.
Blue or red, the Office of the President has always been bigger than the man elected to sit in it, but the President himself has always been elevated by the Office and championed the high values, such as honesty, integrity and respect.
This is why it is so important for Irish people to have a President with Irish heritage, especially one whose ancestors left Ireland during the Famine. It represents the best the we can be, when given the chance.